Two Blocks And A World Away: A Taste of Ethiopia

nicole+SCHLAEPPI++%E2%80%A2++The+Spectator

nicole SCHLAEPPI • The Spectator

Long lines and excited chatter usually mean one of two things: something free is up for grabs, or there is some sort of important event taking place. In this case, both were true.

The “Beyond 12th & Jeff” event, hosted by SGSU, took place this past Thursday in the Student Center. In an effort to introduce students to establishments in the surrounding neighborhoods of our campus, SGSU brought in Ethiopian food from restaurants Zobel and Saba located in the Central District.

“I thought it was great that we were exposed to restaurants that we typically don’t go to because of their location,” said sophomore Ingrid de Anda.

On the menu were vegetable dishes like the Miser or Kik Wot and Gomen, containing ingredients like red lentils, delicately spiced split peas and sautéed collard greens. The popular meat dish was the Chicken Tibs, a stir-fried chicken with onions, green peppers and tomatoes.

Much like a tightly coiled snake, the line for the sampling stretched around the hearth as dozens of students showed up. The event seemed to be a major success, judging by how many pounced on the opportunity to taste some unfamiliar food.

“[The food was] very spicy and new to my palate,” sophomore Anna Hanson said. “It was a good mix though. I think it’s good to get pushed out of your comfort zone.”

Zobel, located on 21st and Union, and Saba, located on 12th Ave. between Yesler and Fir, offer authentic Ethiopian cuisine within walking distance of campus. Presenting flavorful dishes and a culture that hopes to make you feel at home, these restaurants encouraged customers to come in and take part in their community.

nicole SCHLAEPPI  •  The Spectator
nicole SCHLAEPPI • The Spectator

Student Ellie Sharrard waits in line for some of the tasty food brought to campus at the Beyond 12th and Jeff event.

“I’ve never tasted Ethiopian food,” said junior Jordan Murakami. “The fact that it is so close to campus makes you want to go out and get more.”
Local restaurants such as these are significantly affected by traffic from Seattle U, including faculty, staff and students. Zobel and Saba recently reached out to Seattle U to find out why the number of visits had recenty decreased. One of the main reasons why service has died down appears to be the recent influx of crime in the area.

“We are promoting these restaurants because there is a stigma around them that they are unsafe and we’re trying to break down that barrier,” freshman Students with Disabilities Representative Braden Wild said.

SGSU anticipates that strengthening ties with the surrounding establishments will lead to the improvement of the safety of the area as a whole. They seek to prove that practicing proper safety and building community can go hand-in-hand, this time starting with a happy stomach.

These restaurants were not the only places promoted at the event. The stylish brochure, designed by Yours in Art’s Nathan Watkins, also displayed other sites to see within the Central District.

The Madrona Farmers Market, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and many other establishments were highlighted in the pamphlet, encouraging students to explore what else the district had to offer.

The idea for an event like this initially stemmed from the desire to change stereotypes about the area and give students an opportunity to form their own unbiased opinion. Trying things you may have never tried before and experiencing new cultures deeply resonates with the rich history of the Central District.

We’re definitely not closed to having another event, perhaps about the International District or other areas,” said sophomore At-Large Representative Owen Goetze. “We’re going to try to work more with other students.”

Goetze also mentioned that several people recommended there be some sort of discussion toward the middle or end of the event to make it a more complete experience.

SGSU encourages students to push for their interests by joining them at their public representative assembly meetings which take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. The location is always announced on their website.

Seeing that “Beyond 12th and Jeff” was well received, we can hope that more events like it will follow in the near future.

“I was always too lazy to seek out all these new and cool places for myself,” freshman Jennifer Lobrio said. “I love that we can rely on SU to help us connect better. I would have never known what was out there.”